But Eagles advance to 2nd round of district tournament
By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit
Caroline Snare was elbowed in the head and Abby Harper was poked in the eye. But the Brentwood High School girls basketball team survived its first test in the Class 3 District 4 tournament on Monday, beating John F. Kennedy 44-36.
BHS now takes its 21-3 record into the second round against top-seeded Whitfield for a 5 p.m. game on Wednesday, Feb. 5, at Principia. The winner of that game will be in the district championship on Friday.
Having lost to Brentwood by 14 points three weeks ago, JFK, 9-17, played like it had nothing to lose. The scrappy Celts kept the Eagles off balance by pressing like crazy and getting physical inside. A team that frequently scores 20-plus points in a quarter, BHS was held to below 10 in the first and fourth.
“They put a little pressure on us and we were like wigging out,” said Brentwood head coach Chris Jones.
“I noticed there was a lot of pushing and shoving going on,” said junior center Sophia Rivera. “I guess a lot of girls get caught up in the moment. I know not everyone means to do it. I think it was definitely tough and rough on our girls.”
“It was very physical at times,” said freshman forward Caroline Snare. “I got an elbow to the head.”
“Some girl scratched me in the eye and I lost a couple of eyelashes,” said junior guard Abby Harper. “After that I kept messing up. Their girls were really physical, they were just pushing. I think it’s just because it was a big game and everybody wanted it.”
“It was frustrating,” said freshman forward Nija Price, who led Brentwood with 13 points. “The JFK parents were like getting in my head. They’d say, ‘Oh, she fouled her,’ and I’m like, ‘No, I didn’t.’ I just had to calm down.”
Brentwood never trailed but led by only five points with 1:57 left in the game. Running out of time, Kennedy was forced to foul and Marshelle Franklin calmly swished four free throws to help seal it. But there was no celebrating afterward.
“I think we just scrapped up the win,” said Rivera. “We didn’t play up to our potential but we can definitely come back strong.”
Jones was disappointed that he’d been taken out of his game plan. He knew Whitfield coaches would be in the gym analyzing his team’s vaunted zone press defense, so he decided to play man-to-man instead.
“With Whitfield being here I didn’t really want to show [how] we pressed,” he said. “I just wanted to play a simple man-to-man defense and we struggle with that. So we had to show our hand; we had to change things around in the second half. I started with a zone and our press in the second half. That got us up by 10 or 12.”
The Eagles led by 12 late in the third quarter but Kennedy cut it to 38-33 with 1:57 left in the game.
“We did three or four dumb things and they capitalize, and it’s a five- or six-point ball game again,” said Jones. “We were able to stretch it out a little with free throws at the end.”
Said Snare, “I was never scared we were going to lose but I did get butterflies, thinking, ‘We have to come out with this win.’”
Said Harper, “I wanted it so bad because I think we can make it all the way to Friday if we work hard enough.”
“I don’t think we played up to our potential tonight,” said Rivera. “I guess we had the district jitters or something like that. But I think we’ve gotten it out of our systems. After tonight we’re going to come back Wednesday playing 100 percent.”
Forfeit bumps record to 21-3
Brentwood has had some easy victories this season, having outscored conference foes by an average margin of 30 points, but this one was definitely the easiest. The Eagles arrived at Northwest Academy for a scheduled game on Feb. 11 before learning that there was no game. “They told us they never had it on the schedule at all, even though I have the paper trail to prove otherwise,” said BHS Athletic Director Steve Ayotte.
BHS is 21-3 as of Feb. 24
Dec. 8: won vs. McKinley 60-25
Dec. 10: won vs. Lift for Life 53-43
Dec. 12: won vs. Carnahan 83-29
Jan. 5: won vs. Soldan 54-22 at Burroughs Invitational
Jan. 7: won vs. Roosevelt 63-31 at Burroughs Invitational
Jan. 9: lost to John Burroughs 45-30 at Burroughs Invitational
Jan. 12: lost at Clayton 55-30
Jan. 13: won vs. Crossroads 52-25
Jan. 14: won at Trinity 64-33
Jan. 16: lost at Villa Duchesne 61-55
Jan. 20: won vs. MRH 77-53
Jan. 21: won vs. Normandy 52-16
Jan. 23: won vs. Hancock 70-37
Jan. 26: won vs. University City 62-55
Jan. 27: won at Bayless 60-30
Jan. 30: won vs. Valley Park 50-25
Feb. 2: won at JFK 48-34
Feb. 3: won at Crossroads 46-22
Feb. 10: won at Hancock 87-38
Feb. 11: won forfeit over Northwest Academy
Feb. 13: won vs. Bayless 60-35
Feb. 17 won at Valley Park 61-21
Feb. 18 won vs. Orchard Farm 62-35
Class 3, District 4 tournament at Principia
Feb. 23 won vs. John F. Kennedy
Feb. 25, 5 p.m., vs. Whitfield
Feb. 27, 6 p.m., vs. probably John Burroughs (if win on Feb. 25)
District tournament seeding
1. Whitfield, 9-11 (lost to Burroughs by one)
2. John Burroughs, 12-9 (beat BHS by 15)
3. Principia, 6-17 (beat Burroughs by five)
4. Brentwood, 17-3
5. JFK, 8-15
6. MRH, 8-16
7. Valley Park, 6-18
8. Cleveland ROTC, 4-12